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Review Guidelines

September 30, 2010 Leave a comment

So I’ve seen a few movies lately and am very much looking forward to sharing my views on them. However, I think it’s important to go over certain aspects of my reviewing process, because, unfortunately, it’s a complicated one.

When it comes to seeing, reviewing and cataloging movies, I’m not afraid to say that I am incredibly anal. One of the deepest pleasures that I’ve ever had is ranking, rating, listing and grading every movie that I see from here till next Sunday, and that passion always filters its way into how I review films.

I have 3 primary methods of grading a film: a star rating, numerical scale and a letter grade. At this point, most people think that I’m out of my mind. Not many critics have one rating system (if any) and don’t dare revert from that small corner of the reviewing community. I find it literally impossible to rank films using such a limited system of categorization. I need more, and I think with such a wide, diverse array of films in the world, I cannot narrow them into any smaller groupings than I have to.

5 Star System

The first, and perhaps broadest system is my star system. It occurs in the form of * through ***** using 1/2’s. The following are few examples of films that I would grade using the star system. Some examples:

“Righteous Kill”   * *  out of  * * * * *

“Malcolm X”   * * *  out of  * * * * *

“Kramer vs Kramer”   * * * * 1/2 out of  * * * * *

Numerical Scale

The second form of ranking is perhaps the most complex. It is a 1 to 10 numerical scale using decimal increments of 2 tenths. This system is closely related to the star rating, for up and down it can be rounded to the closest interval. For example, the 3 star rating of “Malcolm X” is equivalent to a 6 out of 10 in the numerical scale. However, it could actually be anywhere from a 5.6 to a 6.4 and be rounded to a 3 star rating, as well.

This grading scale is most useful when ranking films on my all-time list, for it works as a tiered system for ranking every film I’ve ever seen. That list is a whole other bag of psychotic tricks that will be available soon on this blog for public consumption.

Letter Grades

The final system of classifying films for their quality is one of a simple A through F report card-style grade. Why I use this ranking as well is so that I can use a verbal system of describing a film based on the categorization of them in terms of grade. Here is a list of the letter grades with their equivalent verbal description

A+  =  Perfect (or as close to perfect as a film can come)

A = Amazing

A- = Excellent / Great

B+ = Very Good

B = Good

B- = Fairly Good

C+ = Average

C = Fairly Bad

C- = Bad

D+ = Very Bad

D = Horrible

D- = Atrocious

F = Perfectly Bad (None if hardly any redeeming qualities)

Now this system does have a method of matching each grade to its equivalent star and number, but explaining it would be one more headache for you readers, as if all of this wasn’t insane enough. Yet, trust me, it all pays off in the end.

Stay tuned for the many reviews that are now yet to come…

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“True Grit” Trailer

September 30, 2010 Leave a comment

So there’s a lot of organizational facets that I plan to get up and running soon. But I’ve got to address the story that has been occupying a large amount of my interest this week, and that is the long-awaited trailer for this winter’s release of “True Grit.” The new film by the ever-busy Coen Brothers is an adaptation of Charles Portis’ classic western (I’ve noticed now that many filmmakers have been avoiding the term “REMAKE” by citing the original source material as much as humanly possible).

This film has been a major contender flying very low under the radar. Until now, the only thing people have had to go on was a screenshot and a few production stills. Now that it has reared its ugly head, I think it’s safe to say that a number of nominations will headed its way this January. One thing in particular that a number of people I know can really cross there fingers for would be a long-deserved Oscar statuette for Roger Deakins, arguably the best director of photography working today. And if the images of this trailer paint an accurate picture as to the look and style of this film, then wishes might just be granted.

Enjoy this collage of visual and thematic splendor:

For better resolution get the hi-def at Apple Trailers:

http://trailers.apple.com/trailers/paramount/truegrit/

So, this is where it starts…

September 30, 2010 1 comment

Well, here we go. So many have asked for this, and now they shall receive. This is the counterpart to my life in cinema.

My name’s Thomas Conroy and I live in Chicago, Illinois. I’ve been on this planet for nearly 24 years and for probably the last 18 or 19 of them, my life has been largely dominated by movies. It might have started in 1993 when I first saw Jurassic Park in the theater and had my head spun around my shoulders a few dozen times. Shortly after that experience I discovered that I shared the same birthday as the man behind that particular curtain: Steven Spielberg. Back in the day, I may have thought that was an omen, and maybe it was in some respects. However, I’m positive of only one link that seems indisputably common between the two of us: we both share the same undying passion for the silver screen.

So, here I am, decades later, and my world is no less consumed by the art of cinema than it ever has before. I live and breathe it, at home, at school, at work and in my constant ventures to the local art house or cineplex. I am currently pursuing a Masters Degree in Cinema Production from DePaul University and find myself working on many film projects as a director, writer, editor, grip and electrician. I also put time in helping to maintain a light and sound production stage. Now, while I seem to be slowly breaking my way into the movie-making business, my true passion still lies in watching the finished product…which I do…en masse. I see hundreds of movies a year and constantly re-watch and examine my favorites. In conjunction, I have been a self-proclaimed movie critic professionally, educationally and just for the sheer pleasure of it for ten years. Finally, as if there were any time left over after all that, I am an absolute junkie for Oscar race and love following it at every step. I’ve got my hands full. And thus, we get to this point.

The other day, a good friend of mine asked me what the clear-cut purpose of this blog was for that was an important first step in this journey, and to be honest, I’m not sure that I have one. It’d be too easy to say I did it to please the naggers who were sick of me flooding facebook with my musings and reviews (as if that’s going to stop now that I have a soapbox to stand on). Perhaps this is my way of consolidating the chaotic storm of movies swirling around in my head into one clear vision. Maybe it just gives me a chance to preach to more than just the choir of my own mind about the ever-changing world of film.

Or maybe it just boils down to two things: I love writing and I love movies.

Regardless, I hope that everyone I know (and maybe some folks I don’t) join me on this adventure. In the next few days, I’ll start outlining the shape and scope of what this site will include. Expect a wide array of posts from new reviews, re-visitations to older films, production stories, awards predictions, and general musings about film in general, not to mention a special window into my mind through my own personal lists.

What does this all mean?

“Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.”